Study Abroad Experience Leads NWU Student Down New Academic Path
Tori Haussler came to Nebraska Wesleyan University with dreams of becoming a doctor. But a few general education classes uncovered some other interests and soon she was headed in a new direction in another country.
Haussler, a senior from Arapahoe, Neb., has returned from a year in Jaipur, Rajasthan, located in northern India. She was introduced to the idea of studying abroad during a political science class her sophomore year.
“Going to India just fell into my lap,” said Haussler.
She re-evaluated her plans to attend medical school and switched her major to political science and minor to global studies.
Political science professor Bob Oberst recognized Haussler’s interest in political policy and suggested she study in India. He put her in touch with a NWU alum who also studied in India. She was on her way to Jaipur just a few months later.
In India, she took an intensive language course in Hindi and attended classes with other American students. Haussler began a year-long internship at the one of the oldest human rights groups in India, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. The organization encourages the Indian government to provide food rations to citizens.
“One in three Indians receives one secure meal per day and 60 percent of people go without food each day,” said Haussler. “There are dire situations and it can get dismal, but I was able to see the other side as well.”
Her internship provided her with invaluable information and experience with public policy.
“I was able to see first-hand how outside influences can affect government and how independent groups can influence government,” she said.
She immersed herself in the culture by living with a host family, and adapted to cultural differences including the transportation system, which included elephants and camels.
One of the more surprising cultural differences she experienced was India’s caste system. The caste system is based on heredity and the idea that some people are cleaner and purer than others.
“The idea of equality is a very western idea,” said Haussler. “The caste system is a cultural societal norm in India and the classifications are strongly adhered to. A person only interacts with those people within their caste.”
Haussler said her study abroad experience has opened more doors for opportunities in her academic field. Next spring whe will participate in Nebraska Wesleyan’s Capitol Hill Internship Program in Washington, D.C. Following her graduation in May, she plans to find work in Washington, D.C. and eventually pursue a law degree and master’s degree in security studies.